Putting People First

At a recent meeting of Limerick County Council as reported in the media it was stated that Fianna Fáil Councillor Francis Foley from Abbeyfeale drew attention to the hardship that the cuts in Home Help hours is causing to many vulnerable people and that he also called for support for SIPTU’s Time To Care campaign. It was further reported that he was calling on the HSE and the Minister for Health to cease cutting Home Help hours on “financial considerations only” and not the needs of the clients or the integral role that Home Care workers play in the HSE.  Fair play to Francis Foley for bringing up this matter as there are many elderly and disabled people whose Home Help and Carer’s hours have been cut in order to save money on these services. But if the Government and particularly the Health Minister is genuine and sincere about putting people and (patients) first then he would and must be expected to stop any further cuts in Home Help and Carer’s hours and restore those that have already been affected.  If this does not happen who can believe that the Health Minister and the Government are serious about putting people first. It was somewhat re-assuring to learn that the other councillors, including those on the Fine Gael side, agreed with Councillor Francis Foley’s motion which was passed unanimously.

Councillor Damien Reidy is reported to have said that we can’t pre-empt the budget. While most people would agree with such an assertion it is relevant that Finance Minister Michael Noonan would be aware of the feelings of  the people of County Limerick as expressed through their Councillors that any further cuts with regard to Home Help and Carer’s working hours and allowances are not acceptable to the people of this County. Whether the Minister, who is from Limerick himself and elected to the Dáil by the people of Limerick, will be impressed by this recent outcome of Francis Foley’s motion remains to be seen.

Either way this demonstration of people power as shown by this decision of their public representatives regarding Home Help and Carers will surely do some good and as the next local elections will be coming up in 2014 which is not that far away it is important to know if our elected representatives local and otherwise are listening to the needs of those who elected them.  It is certainly hoped that they are.

In another County Council context it has been reported that Limerick County Councillors across the political spectrum had agreed in principle that any new property tax must take ‘ability to pay’ into account. This was in response to a motion by Fianna Fáil Councillor Kevin Sheahan. One must wonder if our Fianna Fáil public representatives have now changed their approach to the whole concept of property tax because last year when it was first introduced we had  at least one Limerick Fianna Fáil Dáil Deputy telling us that the €100 Household Charge was then the “Law of the Land” which people would have to pay.  There was no mention at that stage about any exemption by the Deputy for those who, because of their circumstances, might be unable to pay or no question of a refund to those who had already paid if the criteria of inability to pay the Household Charge had been introduced.

Now it looks as if this “inability to pay” any new household or property tax will be on the agenda by Fianna Fáil in the forthcoming European and local elections after months of silence on the matter.  There is no doubt that the Fianna Fáil Party must wake up its collective mind on the whole question of where it stands with regard to this matter of a property tax being introduced. Who should pay it or who should not or should it be brought in at all?. There should be no sitting on the fence by the Party and its prospective candidates should be fully aware that at least half the population of the State are opposed to it. We all know where the Government Party’s, Fine Gael and Labour stand on the issue. They have already introduced it since last year. But where does Fianna Fáil fit into the picture, that is what we would like to know.

In the meantime it has been reported that at the same County Council meeting at which the foregoing matter had been on the agenda it was also reported that Councillor Stephen Keary (Fine Gael) that those in Local Authority Houses should be asked to pay, presumably he was referring to the new property tax. It should be interesting to find out if he will be telling this to Council House Tenants in our Rathkeale area Constituency if he is a candidate again in the next Council election and if he thinks it would help in his canvassing in our area.

The Quiet Man


In a recent lengthy article in Ireland’s Own there was featured the story of Richard Fennelly the Garda from Trim, Co. Meath who composed that wonderful, haunting, never to be forgotten, ballad “The Isle of Inisfree”. As well as dozens of other famous songs and ballads.

Perhaps when the song was adapted for the theme music in that great film “The Quiet Man” in which John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara played the leading role it was then that the magical sentiments as expressed in the song became really evident.  My first experience of seeing the famous film was at a Derby Cinema back in the late ‘50’’s. For those of us who were exiles in another country at the time it brought back many memories of our homeland and the nostalgia that our people away from home are likely to feel when Irish songs, music and other reminders of home are sung or played and likewise films with an Irish background such as “Ryan’s Daughter” or “The Quiet Man”. When we heard lines from the film such as “Oh, Inisfree my Isle across the ocean, Tis soon I will return again to thee” and livelier airs such as “The Rakes of Mallow” or other songs like “Have you ever seen the morning in Kerry or Killarney, when the dew is on the  hayrick and every drop a pearl” . These are the kind of words that stir up the emotions in Irish people when they are away from home and living in another country.   According to the article in Ireland’s Own Dick Fennelly got the inspiration to write “The Isle of Innisfree” on a bus journey from Kells to Dublin.  This song has been recorded by dozens of famous singers including Bing Crosby and is still as popular as ever.  But of course the original story called “The Quiet Man” was written by a neighbour of our own Maurice Walsh of Duagh.  When “The Quiet Man” was being screened at the different cinemas in England there were people who got a very different picture of Ireland and its traditions compared to what they had previously known or heard about this country. The humour, the scenery, the music, the songs all made a big impression on some of the English people that we knew at the time.  But the Garda composer of the song that was such a major impact on the great film should have been given greater recognition for his songs. It is nice to know that our own great Garda song composer and singer George Langan, who is a native of Glasha and living in Dublin, can hold his own with the best composers and singers in the land.

Finally there was the story about the Limerick man who was telling a friend of his that he had got his free travel pass “Now you see, I can go to Ennis free whenever I want to do so”.